About the book
- Shortlisted for the QWF Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction
A movement in the sonata form traditionally comprises thee sections— exposition, development and recapitulation—which explore two themes according to set key relationships. In the 1920s dancer/choreographer Martha Graham and her musical collaborator Louis Horst developed a modern dance structure based on the sonata form and the inevitable change that comes from confrontation.
As a young dance student at Juilliard in New York, Denise Roig was inspired by the fearsome Martha Graham, and Roig's latest collection of short stories, Any Day Now, is grounded on the same sonata form Graham was experimenting with in modern dance.
In these story trios, characters confront themselves, their partners, their choices and lives. The change, when it comes, can be moving, sudden, quiet and heartbreaking. Stories within the cycles are linked by people, locale or theme: a single woman yearning to adopt a child from Russia; Quebec-born immigrants lost in translation in Western Massachusetts; an American woman floundering on a kibbutz in northern Israel between wars; couples trying to save marriages against all odds; a famous American poet dying of AIDS in Venice. All are struggling, all hoping the way will be made clear. Any day now.
About the author
Denise Roig is the author of two critically received collections of short stories: A Quiet Night and a Perfect End (Nuage Editions), and Any Day Now (Signature Editions), and the memoir Butter Cream: A Year in a Montreal Pastry School (Signature Editions). Denise’s first collection was translated in 2000 as Le Vrai Secret du bonheur (Éditions de la Pleine Lune) and her fiction has been heard on CBC’s Between the Covers. As a journalist, Denise’s work has appeared in The Gazette (Montreal) and The National (Abu Dhabi). Denise is the co-editor, with her husband Raymond Beauchemin, of two anthologies of Quebec English literature: Future Tense and The Urban Wanderers Reader.
Born in New York, raised in Los Angeles, and a longtime resident of Montreal, Denise moved to Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, in 2008. She now lives in Hamilton, Ontario.
from "Bridge of Sighs"
"Having a Harold Brodkey kind of death," he wrote from Venice. "Care to join me?"
My daughter was with her father in Boulder for the summer and my client load was light – some people actually do get healthier, moving right along, off my beige and white loveseat and into life. "When, where and how?" I e-mailed back.
"I’ve got six days."
"`Venice is a separate country,’" he answered later that day. "`It floats at anchor inside its own will, among its domes and campanili, independent and exotic at its heart.’ That’s dear, departed Harold himself, and though I’ve been writing like a demon about this sinking marvel since arriving here six months ago, I still can’t say it any better. I’m glad you’re coming."
He didn’t want me staying with him, which would work out better for me, too. "I’ll book you someplace properly Venetian; it is tourist season, though not high-high season, so we shall see. But let me be your guide in this separate country, my one and only Leticia. And don’t worry. Some days I am almost myself. French kisses, your Sebastian."
Leticia wasn’t my real name and Sebastian wasn’t his. They were the names we’d given each other at nineteen simply because we loved the sound of them. But they were names of such impossible romantic promise that I’d ditched mine the year Bert and I divorced, the same year I finally – and, as Paul (or Sebastian) said, not coincidentally – became board certified as a marriage, family and child counselor. But the name held for him: Sebastian Siskel, somewhat-known essayist, poet, thorn in the side of his philosophy department colleagues at Bard College, and the oldest friend of my life.
How sick was he now? Paul wasn’t going to be a reliable source on this. Five years ago when the diagnosis came back HIV positive, he thought he had a year tops. He made dramatic amends to friends and lovers, even his witch of a mother, even to me. He threw a huge New Years’ Eve party that year in his Upper Westside townhouse. I flew in from L.A. We all had to come dressed as if it were Carnival in Venice. We all had to have a really swell time.
As I packed – a bit dazed … it had been a quick decision based on ancient sentiment and the closeness of death – what came back were the cats. Cats, cats everywhere. They’d been in every photo of Venice we shot on my Instamatic that end-of-the-sixties summer, the summer of Chappaquiddick and the man on the moon. In a box of photos marked 1969, I turned up one of Paul feeding a mangy tabby, a bridge – of course – in the background. I studied it for a while, looking for signs of our misadventure on his face. We were only twenty. I let myself cry a little as I sat on the floor of the den.
I flew out the next day, arrived in London, just making my connecting Ryanair flight to Trieste. Trieste was Paul’s idea. We’d missed this city on our first Italian jaunt, but Paul said I couldn’t afford to this time. "You can’t really understand Europe without seeing Trieste," he wrote. "Jan Morris, another writer with a change of sexual heart, not to mention body, calls it ‘The Trieste effect.’ Listen to what she says: ‘I feel this opaque seaport of my vision, so full of sweet melancholy, illustrates not just my adolescent emotions of the past, but my lifelong preoccupations too … It is as though I have been taken, for a brief sententious glimpse, out of time to nowhere.’ Can that old girl write, or what? And, darling, while you’re there, do have the illy espresso at Cremcaffè. And have one for me."
But even in his last e-mail Paul had remained vague about how I was to get from Trieste to Venice. "You might just have to wing this part. Remember how good we were at winging it? Our whole life was winging it. Can’t wait to see you. Any day now."
We’d agreed I would call when I got to Venice, however I got to Venice. But I called from Trieste, having missed the last bus to Venice for the day. Now I would have to stay over, hotel still to be found.
"Glad you called." Paul answered after many rings, sounding exhausted.
"Remind me how we did this," I said. "My feet hurt, I’ve got a killer buzz from one cup of coffee and I don’t think my body can survive a lumpy pensione bed."
I thought he’d laugh. "Paul?"
"Right here," he said.
"Is everything OK?"
"Oh, yes," he said. "Well, actually there’s been a change of plans."
"You don’t want me to come," I said, realizing in that moment how mad an idea this had been. And what did I have to prove to him at this point anyway? That I loved him no matter what?
He started laughing. "You might kill me." This made him laugh harder. Was he already on something -- marijuana, heroin, laughing gas – for the pain? Eventually he was able to convey the information that there was not one single hotel room in Venice for that week and probably not for the entire rest of the summer, and that the only place he’d been able to find even one affordable room – "I mean less than $400 a night" – was in Lido di Jesolo. Just saying the name made him laugh so much he began to wheeze. I was so relieved he didn’t want me to go home, that he wasn’t on his way back to New York where he planned to return for the end-end, that I started laughing, too.
"You won’t be laughing for long, amato. Call me when you get there."
I wasn’t laughing the next afternoon after humping my suitcase up to the third and steaming floor of Hotel Paradiso, then turning around and bumping back to the first floor because the large, blond concierge, who spoke a little Italian, but mostly Russian, had given me the wrong room key. I was spraying sweat when I finally pushed the door in. Paul had to have planned this. The little coincidence with the name, the fact that the room looked identical to every pensione room we’d shared almost thirty-five years before (when we could afford a room): beds like hammocks, décor by Goodwill and a single spigot in the all-tile bathroom serving as shower and room hose-down. I stripped and stood underneath, trying to cool off.
Outside on Via Andrea Bafile, the promenade, I realized this wasn’t Italy at all. "It’s fucking Venice Beach," I said to Paul via cellphone.
"Isn’t it tacky?" said Paul.
"It’s non-stop hotels and all these scorched Hungarians and Germans are tromping up and down dripping ice cream everywhere." I couldn’t believe how annoyed, how ripped off I felt.
"Just like old times," he said.
"It’s not like it was. This isn’t Italy."
"But it is, darling," he said. "Don’t you remember?" And he told me where to catch the boat.
He neglected to tell me, though, that the boat ran only once a day between Jesolo and Venice. "Leaves at 9:30 every morning, returns at five," the tourist agent down the boardwalk told me. For an additional seven Euros, a tour bus would pick me up near, but not at, my hotel and take me to the dock. "But the boat’s already left for today and it means I won’t ever be able to stay in Venice for dinner," I said.
"We have fine ristoranti in Jesolo, signora," said the man.
"It’s crazy, " I told Paul when I called him back. "I’m here for less than a week and I’m going to see more of this circus than I am of Venice. And I still haven’t seen you."
"Not much to look at anymore," he said. "Remember how I worried about my weight? Well, I’m real svelte now."
"I don’t care what you look like," I said and felt my throat, against my will, tighten.
But as the boat charged the waves the next morning, as we came within sight of the city where we’d been so impossibly young, I felt equal to whatever might be required of me. The Venetian light streamed over the water. It was forgiving light, mirage light. It would wash over Paul and me and reflect our best, once-upon selves. Whatever was supposed to happen would happen. We would have no regrets. We would live – though he would soon die – in that light. I could already hear myself describing our meeting to friends back home. It must have taken courage, they would say. But what closure.
I waited at the quai as Paul had instructed, but he didn’t appear. I tried him at the number I had, but his message picked up: Bon giorno, bonjour, howdy – a greeting for everyone. I waited for an hour and then drifted with the crowds toward Piazza San Marco, still turning every few minutes to check for him. I became part of the pilgrimage trudging up and over countless bridges under the Venetian sun.
And then we were spilling into the vast space of the Piazza and people were snapping off photos and stopping at kiosks and running to stand in lines. We flung our hungry selves into the physical reach of the place. So high, so wide. It was no longer a photo in an album, a bruise in my memory. For so long I’d held this place like a shrine to pain. And now I was back, standing in its dazzling light, spinning in its beauty.
I tried Paul again. This time, no message, just ringing. I ordered a sandwich and iced tea from one of the over-priced cafés in the Piazza, wandered from palace to basilica to palace, bought a black lace fan for too many Euros from one of the souvenir carts. I perspired and fanned, called half a dozen more times, and then at 4:30, still looking around, still thinking he would appear, went up and down over the bridges back to the quai, back to the boat, back to Jesolo.
Paul didn’t answer his phone until after nine that night. By then, I’d gone swimming in the Adriatic, their proximity to the beach the only thing the Jesolo hotels were good for. The sea had turned silvery pink from the setting sun, but I couldn’t stay in the water long: the mosquitoes were vultures. I’d had ice cream and vegetarian pizza and had watched the human show on the boardwalk.
"Did I misunderstand?" I asked when he picked up. "Did I get the time wrong? Were you out there all day looking for me?"
"No," said Paul. "No, that wasn’t it."
"Were you too ill?"
"It was a bad day," said Paul. "All around."
"But why didn’t you just call and tell me? You’ve got my cell."
"I didn’t know what to say."
"I didn’t come all this way for …" I stopped myself.
"For me to play coy?" he asked.
"Do you need help?" I said. "Because I’m here. I’m trapped in this stupid resort, but I am only a boat ride away. I can help."
"Tomorrow," he said. "Same place." He wanted to know about the hotel, about the turistas, about what I’d eaten for supper.
"I’ll tell you tomorrow," I said. "When I see you."
"No, now," he said.
So I told him about the sundae I’d had with three kinds of gelati – coconut and mandarin and grapefruit, all layered with whipped cream and kiwi sauce. "Kiwi sauce," he said. "I’ve never had kiwi sauce." I told him about the three Hungarian women sitting at the table next to me in the pizzeria. "Euro-fashionistas," I said. "None of them was under seventy, bronzed like those old Man Tan ads, billboards for melanoma, and dressed to the teeth."
"I love it," he said. "But how’d you know they were Hungarian? You don’t understand Hungarian."
"I asked them," I said. "We had a nice little sign-language exchange about the mosquitoes."
"I’m glad you’re making friends," Paul said.
I waited for nearly an hour again at the quai the next morning, called and got his message – a new message only in Italian – then took off, faster than the morning before. I walked into and through the Piazza. It was Friday and the crowds were thicker, the air heavier. Now I was pissed. What kind of manipulative passive-aggressive shit was he pulling now? Was this piece of Venetian choreography meant to make me yet more tolerant? Was he giving me one last, tough little lesson before he went?
I wanted to walk fast, in a huff, but the crowds slowed me down. I was on Villa delle Procuratie, according to the sign on the wall, a shaded, narrow walkway packed with expensive shops, everything for the procuring. Gusts of air-conditioning reached me on the melting street, pulled me inside. I went into one shop, then another – bought a string of multi-coloured Venetian glass beads for my daughter, then bought another next door, a shorter string, in case she didn’t like the first one, then bought another in a shop further down for myself, different than the first two because at seventeen Marisa was in an intense period of individuating. Last year Paul had said, "It must be hard for her. You concentrate so hard on the people you love."
When I found myself fingering a fourth necklace – in case Marisa didn’t like either of the other two, or in case she preferred the one I’d bought for myself – I put it down and went back outside. It was so hot now that it made being a tourist feel like punishment. There was no place to go home to. I was a half-day and a boat ride from even a shower. I called Paul again and this time got a message made for me.
"Leticia, if you get this, all I can say is that I am really sorry. I can only imagine what you must be thinking. Your usual patience evaporetto, and oh, darling, you have been immensely patient with me in spite of what I have probably done and said over the years. I forget now exactly what I’ve said. Everything feels like just yesterday and a hundred years ago. OK, here’s the thing. I can’t go out today and I can’t have anybody in. I know you could stand the sight of me – pale, cadaverous, retching every now and then – but see, I couldn’t stand the sight of you looking at the sight of me. I think Harold had the same problem, though, of course, Ellen Schwamm was with him up to the end. Go figure that one out. Hey, did you hear they’re trying to clean up our old guy in Florence, the David? And it’s stirring up the usual Italian opera. Some experts say the only way not to destroy the marble is to use soft cloths and erasers. So there’s some woman restorer going at him with mud masks and mineral spirits. Poor guy. One thing they know now: cheap marble. Michelangelo’s stone wouldn’t be used to build a sink today. Say hey, darling. I know this is beyond the beyond. But let’s hope for better tomorrow. Have some kiwi sauce for me. Say hi to the Hungarians. And do take a gondola ride … worth every outrageous Euro. It’s an ‘A’ ride, the one we never took. Love you, truly do."
We hadn’t been able to afford a gondola ride thirty-five summers ago, though Paul kept saying we could. We’d had a windfall in Florence that he was intent on spending as quickly as possible. He wanted to stay in a good hotel, eat out every meal. But I put my foot down about the gondola. To be squired through a few canals by a gigolo-type in boater hat and tight black pants for a small fortune? Paul had suggested it every day. I said no every day.
We’d begun to disagree about other things, too, about the architecture and whether cats were better pets than dogs, and the real reasons we were vegetarians. He thought my politics were too mild and I thought he should stop smoking weed because when he did he wolfed down whole loaves of bread and blocks of cheese, then got a migraine later. These had been little differences when we were making love three times a day, but since Florence, Paul’s desire had turned polite. "Do you want to?" he asked in our tent at night. We’d found a campground called Camping Paradiso right outside Venice, convinced now that every city, every village in the whole Italian boot had a campground with this name. "Do you want to?"
So what now? I wasn’t in the mood on this second solo day to do museums or palaces. I went into another street of shops looking for more gifts, found some lovely glass vases in one, and was loading them up on the counter, mentally ticking off the names of friends, when my hands began to shake and I had to put them all back on the shelf under the careful eye of the signora. I went back out into the street. I would walk. I would find comfort in the bridges and alleys, the piazzas, the water.
One night, in that earlier summer, after a day of barely speaking, we’d walked until our feet were numb. By midnight, the tourists had all gone back to their hotels, the kids to their hostels. We fed some cats a bit of cheese, ducked into a tiny church, miraculously still open, where Paul had sat for a long time with his eyes closed. We were so tired from our summer. It was unimaginable by then that we’d left L.A. with the idea of going to Israel to work the land like pioneers. Europe had gotten in the way. And money. We’d been so desperate for money in Florence that Paul had offered himself to two men, cousins. They’d talked art; they’d had sex. "They let me do only the things I wanted to," Paul told me right after.
But on the bus back to Camping Paradiso that night, Paul turned from the window to look at me. "We opened Pandora’s box," he said.
"No, you opened it," I said, feeling immediately sick.
"You’re right," he said. He was not going to argue.
"Do you want to find those two faggots again, Davie and Chuckie, or whatever their names were?"
"This isn’t about them," Paul said.
"The sex was better, is that what you’re trying to say?"
"I love you," he said. "But I think I need a man to feel …"
"No, obviously not."
"Complete," he said. And it was my moment not to argue – though on and off for the rest of that night and the next week, I cried and bullied and raged. Do you know what a fucked up life you’re going to have? What are your parents going to say? (A lame jab, because at twenty Paul was only too happy to rough up the folks.) I reminded him how much he’d loved and wanted me. But in the end I had to accept a humbling fact: I couldn’t change the way he felt.
I had a client a few years back whose husband left her for another woman. Of course, I’ve had many clients in the same situation, but this woman’s conviction six months later that she could still change her husband’s mind, not only about her, his rightful and deserving partner, but about the other woman, was so absolute that I couldn’t wedge in the smallest possibility that maybe she was going to have to take his word for it, that at some point, she was going to have to believe him. He no longer wanted to be with her. The woman fired me after a few months, saying I wasn’t on her side. Over the years, I’ve watched the slow, coming-to on clients’ faces, the sag in the chest, tears dripping into hands. He doesn’t want me anymore. She doesn’t love me anymore. But, wait, I tell them: There is a freedom that comes with accepting this, though it is a searing freedom.
I left the shops behind and walked in the way one walks in Venice. One is always lost, one is always gasping. Another alley, another courtyard, another church. I lost my sense of direction almost immediately. I threaded and wound, grateful for the shade in the narrowest streets, for the lack of crowds. And then I was in another small piazza and there was a one-word sign with a few flapping flags around it: Gondola. Mauro, was his name, he said, and he helped me onto the shockingly unsteady thin wood boat. He was an older man and his hand was calloused and sure; he’d lifted a million hands like this.
"It’s so shaky!" I cried.
"It’s water," he said and flashed his gondolier’s smile. As we drifted free – "No one else coming?" he asked, looking around; he was paid by the person, after all – Mauro pushed his foot against the edge of the nearest building. "I will show you the Venice tourists do not see," he said. "I show you the real Venice."
"How many people do you say that to every summer?" I asked, sure he’d laugh or at least smile.
"Hundreds, thousands," he said, not smiling, and propelling us out of our alley and into a wider canal. The sun struck the water and, blinded even with sunglasses, I had to look down. The gondola cushions were black vinyl with fake fur trim. Mauro kicked off again, black slipper against brick. My eyes traveled up – black, toreador pants on short, muscled legs to the heavy white cotton of a long-sleeved shirt. There was something medieval in the cut, a costume really.
"How much is this going to cost?" I’d forgotten to ask.
"For you, signora, I charge fifty Euros."
"That’s a lot of money."
"It’s a lot of city, signora," said Mauro, and began reciting the city’s vital statistics: one hundred and eighty bridges, thirty-seven kilometers of canals, sixty thousand residents, four hundred and five gondolas all gliding along on water only six-feet deep. We passed brick so ancient there was no mortar left, just walls of stone balanced by habit. Every now and then I’d turn to watch Mauro’s foot shove off against them as he propelled us in spaces that seemed too narrow for a swimmer. He flicked and pushed the way a goldfish navigates a bowl. What did he see from back there? The backs of sweaty heads, people aiming camcorders and editing images on digital screens? If he looked now he’d see only a woman in her fifties wearing linen capris, hands in her lap.
I could actually see the vapor now. It was here in front of my eyes, hazing everything slightly. Everything looked – I searched for the right word and could only find beautiful.
"There!" Mauro called as we pulled again into a wider canal with more gondolas. He was pointing to a bridge up ahead. I vaguely remembered this bridge. Paul had been fascinated by it. But I couldn’t remember why.
"Bridge of Sighs," Mauro said as we pulled closer. Swarms of people were climbing and descending. It was an elegant curve of a bridge, but not, to my eye, any more special than the other hundred and seventy-nine. The building on our left, Mauro said, had once been a prison. As they crossed the bridge from the rest of the city to the rest of their lives, incoming prisoners would sigh. "You understand?" he said. "You understand the name now? Molto triste."
"Thank you," I said when he pulled me up onto the dock ten minutes later.
"Worth the money?" he asked.
"I think so," I said.
When I reached Paul by cell that evening, he wanted to know all about the gondola ride. "I still haven’t gotten on one," he said. "I just scoot around on the vaporetti. Now that I sort of live here, it feels silly somehow taking a gondola."
"I’m leaving the day after tomorrow," I said.
"I know," Paul said.
"Do you plan on seeing me? Did you ever plan on seeing me or had you been thinking more in terms of cell-to-cell contact?"
"Of course I did." He sounded wounded.
"Do you have any idea how painful this is for me?"
"Painful?" he asked and he sounded so surprised, I said, "I’m going now," and hung up.
I paced around the boardwalk, not seeing a thing. I thought we’d worked through this stuff years ago: my rejection, his guilt. The seventies were made for working things through. We talked, we analyzed, we talked. And we had mostly hung in. I was there for his grand amour with David (no accident, the name) and for David’s death. He was there through the crash-and-burn of my long marriage. I knew this man, his eccentricities and vanities, his generosity and loyalty. We’d drifted together and apart for years, but the drift somehow always carried us back.
The street had just closed to cars the way it apparently did every evening. I turned off my cell phone and walked back to Hotel Paradiso. Two of the three Hungarians were taking a coffee and cigarette at one of the outdoor tables. They waved at me, an old friend already, and motioned grandly to an empty chair.
"Your other friend?" I asked.
"Oh, mens," one said and they smiled hugely at me. I nodded as if I was in on it. Both women were dressed as if attending an elegant beach party – long silky sheaths with silver sandals. They glowed with jewelry.
Hungarian? I asked. She met a Hungarian man here?
Yes, yes, they said. "Rich mens," they said and again there were lots of nods and smiles.
"Mens?" one asked and pointed at me.
"No," I said.
"Oh," both said, looking disappointed.
"You? Men?" I asked, pointing at them.
"No, no," they laughed.
Paul called as soon as I turned my phone back on, somewhere around ten as I sat in front of the window in my room. I’d turned off all the lights, rolled up the shutter and taken off my clothes, too tired for the blast of the shower and the mop up after.
"I just want to know one thing," he said. "Why’d you stick around all those years if it was so bloody painful?"
"I don’t know," I said.
"You’re the fucking therapist and you don’t know?"
"I don’t have one answer for one little thing," I shot back. And then because I heard the absolute truth of that, I added, softer, "Not one."
"There’s been something in this for you all along," said Paul. I could hear someone speaking Italian in the background. Was it the radio or a live person? "I would even go so far as to say that your entire career has been built on that early pain, bafflement, whatever you want to call it. You’ve been trying to figure out the human psyche ever since Florence 1969, trying to crack it and protect yourself from it."
"But it hurt so much," I said. "It messed me up for years."
"How long am I going to have to explain this to you, dear heart? Life is mess and complication. Nothing but. There’s only little spaces for happy-go-lucky, for grace. And besides, why stick with the old pain when there’s so much new pain available?"
"Don’t go philosophical on me," I said.
"Listen, even infuriating Harold got a bit insightful at the end," Paul said. "Hey, here’s a Brodkey quote for you …" I heard him going through papers … "`It is not easy to accept your own unsuitability for life. But if I do not accept it, I will throw my life away in resistance.’ Deep, huh?" His voice was getting weak. "Pending death does that."
"Then we should all be a lot wiser," I said. "Since it is, in fact, pending for all of us."
"For you and your ilk, Letty dear, death is still just an idea. Tomorrow," he said. "For real."
In the middle of the night – it must have been the middle of the night because the roar of the street was muted – Paul called back. "What do I know about Venice?" he asked before I’d even said pronto. "I mean, what? What can I say that hasn’t been said? One hundred and eighty bridges and four hundred gondolas? It’s a city built on sticks, goddamn sticks." And he began to cry. I’d heard him cry like this once a long time ago. The light in the tent had been an underwater shade of green.
I listened to him cry. "Thank you," he finally said. "Anyone else would have rushed in with a pickax or a Band-Aid and I don’t want either."
"I thought I was the one who had to go through the heavy shit this week. See, even now you won’t let me have the stage," I said. The temperature had finally dropped. Something like a breeze was coming through the window.
"I will," he said. "Any day now."
"Do you remember the last time you cried like that with me?" I asked, a dangerous question if he didn’t.
"Baggy old tent," said Paul. His voice was nearly gone now.
"It’s actually four hundred and five gondolas," I said. "Mauro, the gondolier, said so."
"See?" Paul said. "What do I know? Domani."
But the next morning as I waited in the heat for the bus to the boat to the city, I called just in case. He’d made another message for me. "Did you know I have a friend who says I’ve been here, I mean here on the planet, not here in Venice, so many times before, and that I’ve burned through so much karma in this lifetime alone, that I’ll be coming back as light next time around? How about that? I will wrap my beams around you. I will fold you in my rays. I will shine down on you." He’d pulled the phone away to cough. "Don’t look for me today. I won’t be there. I thought I could, but I can’t. All systems are going. Call it goddamn ego and caprice. Cowardice even. But, hey, something good comes of everything, right? I got a blast of your truth, which I suppose I still needed. And I got to have you near again, at least as near as I could. And you, you got … kiwi sauce. Mosquitoes. Gondolas." Now his voice broke. "And my gratitude. That, Letty love, is rarer than love, though you have that, too, in case you were deluded enough to ever doubt it. But here’s to delusions, too! Arrivederci, sweetheart. I’ll be back. Any day now."
I didn’t get on the boat, couldn’t, but walked back to the hotel. I cried all the way, not caring who saw. A few cars slowed, a whole busload of people stared out their tinted windows. The street was already mad with tourists, people with third-degree sunburns and sweat circles under the arms of their tank tops. These people had all missed the boat, too, missed their one chance to spend the day in Venice. Instead they were here in a little world made just for them.
Though it was only ten, I bought a coffee gelato and stood on the sidewalk eating it and crying some more. I’d never cried and eaten ice cream at the same time. It was an experience. I looked at faces. When food wasn’t being shoved in them, they seemed relaxed. These people didn’t mind that they weren’t in Piazza San Marco. They could buy the same fans, hats and T-shirts right here in Jesolo, the same gelati. The view was a little different, the light a little less magic, but if they really wanted to, they could do the palace tomorrow, or the day after, or the day after that.
“Montreal writer Denise Roig's second collection of short stories should be a tough read, dealing, as it does, with family dysfunction, emotional breakdown, and spiritual... ”>>
— Joel Yanofsky Panorama
“In 2004, Denise Roig's Any Day Now appeared, a collection made up entirely of trios. It seems inevitable that there will be comparisons made between Roig's technique and that... ”>>
— Allan Weiss Literary Review of Canada
“When I read that a new collection of stories was "grounded in the sonata form that Martha Graham experimented with in modern dance," I was intrigued. The book is Denise... ”>>
— Sara O'Leary The Vancouver Sun
“Denise Roig writes hardbitten stories of great tenderness, with a gaze that refuses to turn away, that insists on inquiry but refuses to condemn. The characters in this... ”>>
— David Manicom
“Coming of Age Reconsidered
Denise Roig explores the post-youth frontier
"I hope I die before I get old," sang The Who's Roger Daltrey before he got old. Aging may not be... ”>>
— Claire Holden Rothman Montreal Review of Books